Fun Was Had at the ARF Creativity Playshop

Volume 2, Issue 28

Of course I had fun. I always have fun presenting and this was so experimental — imagine media researchers, at least one copywriter, and other marketing people meditating together as part of an industry event — I felt like a kid again. Co-presenter and Playshop co-creator Richard Zackon and I alternated in sharing research findings on the creative process and suggesting best practices as well as offering various experiential exercises. Professional coach Jane Harris supported the fun as well, at one point pulling a rabbit out of a hat and at another getting everybody to wear clown noses. The ARF was generous with its refreshments and support as well as participation by Don Gloeckler, Don Sexton, Horst Stipp, and interns Danielle Hemsley and Raphaela Hodgdon. The feedback sheet Richard passed around was responded to by 16 of the 18 participants, with high ratings for presenters, content, and fun, which got the highest rating.

Did we make a difference in terms of their creativity? Time will tell. There are free follow-up sessions and a post-questionnaire yet to come, which may give us some early indication of any increase in creativity, performance, and/or satisfaction. We’re also sending out, free, the book + DVD kit the Human Effectiveness Institute offers as a 60-day course in Creative Effectiveness.

We were happy to see that important companies sent their people to a creativity intensive, one of the largest media companies sending four people. A top car company sent someone whose nametag I hadn’t noticed — I was happily surprised to find this out the next day in a meeting with that company.

I’m also happily surprised to see that the ANA is now offering a creativity workshop. This is a terrific sign. As Richard pointed out early in the four-hour session on October 3, IBM in a 2010 global survey of CEOs, found that creativity was selected as the most crucial factor for future success.

Xyte, a self-administered online questionnaire that sheds intense clarifying light into the way one thinks — which of 16 types of thinker one is — was made available free, courtesy of Gerry Klodt and Linda McIsaac of Xyte. One participant who found it revealed her to herself in a way that was “spot on” asked for and received the two extra free passes we had been given to access Xyte, for members of her team.

The participants were given many methods to stimulate their own creativity and to look at old problems in new ways. Someone asked how to retain singlepointed focus while necessarily multitasking and was given the method of staying focused through complexity, rotating the concentration among the incoming data streams. This is described in greater detail in Chapter 7 of our book Freeing Creative Effectiveness. A few heads nodded knowingly (Don Sexton’s was one of them) at another point when I mentioned using a notepad to take down side ideas that arise while you are focused on one specific task, so the mind does not feel these ideas tugging one.

During the final exercise the participants generated many creative ideas of their own around social media, including a fascinating schematic by Don Gloeckler that could become the framework for studying the diffusion of memes through the population.

Don Sexton objected at one point when I was characterizing stress as being the enemy of the Zone (Flow State), the state of highest creativity that we were aiming at by route of the Observer State. He and I agreed that stress could produce the phenomenon of “little old ladies” suddenly able to carry large heavy men out of burning buildings. It was a moment to remind ourselves that the principles being passed along in the training were none of them black-and-white absolute rules but needed to be balanced against each other customized for every situation. At an earlier point I had cautioned that anything we said should not be applied so absolutely as to become the next block to creativity.

After the session it occurred to me that I should have said we would never have burned down the building just to get the “little old lady” into the Zone for a few minutes, although the experience might lead her to more constant Flow state capability — the cost of the building and perhaps other lives would have been grotesquely too high. So there has to always be a tradeoff between the good of the Flow state and the cost involved — courses like these being a better way to approach Flow maximization than artificially creating stress situations. (For the record, the OSS and many contemporary military and paramilitary organizations did/do in fact purposely create stress in order to gain expected benefits in the performance of individuals.)

Hopefully HR leaders at major companies will take us up on our offer to take this Playshop on the road. The Playshop could be used as part of a management offsite, extending the current Playshop into a fully customized wargame focused on the future of the specific company involved. Having created and led one such wargame recently with high-level U.S. military officers focused on long-range planning, and conducted scenario stimulation with top managements of many advertisers, media and agencies, this is the part that could afford participants and their companies the most benefit. The Playshop at ARF by its nature of having many companies in one room could not delve into confidential matters pertaining to one company. Skills could be sharpened but the focus of these skills on close-to-home opportunities and challenges could not happen in such an event. Companies that take us up on the offer to go in for more customized Playshops can begin creating their company’s future with the shackles taken off of thinking.

Best to all,


2 thoughts on “Fun Was Had at the ARF Creativity Playshop

  1. Pingback: Next Time, Let’s Replace Black Box Debates — Four Out-of-the- Box Ideas | Bill Harvey Blog

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